Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
I finally got a chance to get back to New York City last weekend after an eight year absence. I make no secret of the fact that I love New York, but not being able to get out of town that often I haven’t had the opportunity to visit some of the beer bars and restaurants that feature craft beer. Having only a couple days in the city, I didn’t get to visit nearly as many places as I’m interested in (those will have to wait for future trips), but here’s a quick rundown of some of the noteworthy stops I got to make and some of the noteworthy beers I got to try while there:
Ginger Man (11 East 36th St): When I’d mentioned that I was heading to New York a few weeks ago on Twitter, the recommendations for Ginger Man started coming in. We weren’t staying very far away, so when it came time to start our Saturday evening festivities, Ginger Man was the natural choice. The ambiance of the room and the obvious selectivity of the beer and whiskey lists can lead one to assume a level of preciousness or pretension from Ginger Man (which in fact was the only knock I’d heard against it before visiting), but the vibe is very laid-back and the staff is extremely down-to-earth. My wife noted how good a job our waitress had been doing without seeming to hover or over-assist; that’s a difficult thing to do.
“Tell me how it is — it just got here and I haven’t gotten to try it yet.” This was the request from our waitress after I ordered my first beer of the evening: a bottle of Evil Twin Aun Mas A Jesus. This latest run of the gypsy brewer’s Even More Jesus Imperial Stout was brewed in Catalunya and at 12% is a rich, port-like Stout that isn’t afraid to clobber the palate with sensation.
My wife started with an Abita Roggen Weizen. From Abita’s Select Series, Roggen Weizen is based on a relatively obscure German style of beer that worked rye malts into a Hefeweizen-style Wheat Ale. The Roggen was spicy and refreshing.
Round two saw us ordering a bottle of The Perfect Crime Hollow Point, a Belgian-style Quad that brought the complexity of a Rochefort 10 without bringing the hurt the Rochefort often brings, while I ordered one of Ginger Man’s two cask offerings; Chelsea Brewing New York State of Mind. This IPA, pulled from a proper cask and crafted right on the island of Manhattan, expressed its New York State hops and smooth malts with a clarity that made me want to stay right where I was and drink it all night. For food, we split a charcuterie plate that we both felt gave us a good amount to work through, and everything was very high quality. Highly recommended.
Rattle ‘N’ Hum (14 East 33rd St): If every craft beer bar were like Rattle ‘N’ Hum, the big brewers would collapse within one week. The open front is inviting, and the public seating is a touch I wish more places would roll their dice on. I started my session with Sixpoint Otis, one of their draft-only selections. A 6% Oatmeal Stout, Otis was my ‘taking a quick break’ beer; my wife wisely opted for the always-enjoyable Charles Wells Bombardier for hers. We quickly struck up a conversation with our table-mates and talked beer and life for the next few hours.
Over that time I enjoyed another Otis, some Harviestoun Old Engine Oil off cask (the richness and smoothness cannot properly be described here), and the wonderfully malty Dark Horse Brewing Company Crooked Tree IPA. Rattle ‘N’ Hum strikes the right balance between serious beer bar and local watering hole; any other smallish bars you can think of showing the college football game on a projection screen while serving bottles of AleSmith and draft pulls of Bokor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge? Highly recommended.
Rare Bar and Grill (303 Lexington Ave. with another location at 152 West 26th St.): We wanted to snag a quick dinner Sunday night, and Rare’s Lexington Avenue location was close to us so we decided to give it a shot. The beer list isn’t much to speak of, but there’s Guinness so I was set. I mention Rare because they do fantastic burgers and fries that are worth burning precious column space over. My bison burger was a perfect medium-rare hunk of glorious meatiness, but the parmesan truffle fries and cottage fries stole the show. Rare isn’t cheap, but the extra couple bucks is worth it for the quality of the dinner you’ll have, and your bill still won’t turn out too high. Recommended.